Monday, June 01, 2009

The Pros and Cons of Flash-based Web Sites (The Good, Bad and the Ugly)

Flash-based sites have been a craze for several years, and as Adobe compiles more and more great features into the Flash framework, we can only predict more and more flash-based sites throughout the Internet. However, Flash based sites are considered by some usability experts to be bloated and unnecessary. Where exactly do we draw the line?

Here's a simple breakdown.

The good:


Flash's Actionscript opens up a vast field of possibilities for dynamic user interaction. Programmers and designers alike have used Flash to create interactive features ranging from very lively feedback forms to attractive Flash-based games. The dynamism of this whole new level of interactivity will often leave visitors coming back for more.

A standardized site

With Flash, you do not have to worry about cross-browser compatibility. No more woes over how certain css code displays differently in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. When you position your site elements in Flash, they will always appear as they are as long as the user has the latest Flash Player installed.

Better expression through animation

In Flash, one can make use of its animating features to convey a message in an efficient and effective way. Flash is a lightweight option for animation because it is vector based (allowing smaller file sizes) as opposed to real "movie files" that are raster based and hence much larger in size.

The bad and the ugly:

The Flash player

People have to download the Flash player prior to viewing Flash movies, so by using Flash your visitor base will decrease a small but significant degree because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. You'll also have to put in additional work in redirecting the user to the Flash download page if he or she doesn't have the player installed.

Site optimization

If your content is presented in Flash, most search engines will not be able to index your Flash-based content. Therefore your site may not rank well in key search engines leading to less traffic directed to your site.

Loading time

Users have to wait longer than usual to load Flash content compared to regular text and images, and some visitors might just lose their patience and click the Back button. The longer your Flash takes to load, the more you risk losing visitors.


It is generally recommended to use Flash only when you absolutely need the interactivity and motion that comes with it. Otherwise, use a mixture of Flash and HTML or use pure HTML if your site's primary purpose is to present simple textual and graphical information. Two clicks and good luck!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Vital Importance of a Good Web Design

Your website is the hub of your online business; it is the virtual representation of your company whether your business exists physically or not. When you are doing business online, people cannot see you physically like they would if they were dealing with an offline company. Hence, in this case, people do judge a book by its cover. This is where good design comes in.

Imagine this: you are running an offline company, would you allow your salespeople to be dressed in shabby or casual clothing when dealing with your prospects and customers? By requiring your staff to dress professionally, you are telling your customers that you truly care about quality. This works simply because first impressions matter tremendously as we form our perceptions and quality judgments.

The situation is essentially similar when it comes to your website. If your website is put together shabbily and looks like a 5 minute "quick fix", you are practically shouting to your visitors that you are unprofessional and do not place much emphasis on quality.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you have a completely professional looking website design and layout, you help give your visitors the perception that you have paid meticulous attention to every detail and care about professionalism. You are organized, focused and really mean business.

Similarly, other materials related to your company should be well designed. From business cards to your company's letterheads to promotional brochures, every little bit matters. This is because as you grow your business, these items become your company's "face" to the world. Once again, think of the "salesperson dressed shabbily" analogy, and you will understand my point. Cheers and good luck!